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So far only 558 people have left the Earth and travelled beyond its orbit. Norah Casey goes to infinity and beyond to explore how space tourism will soon be a reality for the rest of the Earth’s inhabitants.

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Published by Harmonia Norah, 2018-10-30 12:43:23

Fly Me to the Moon

So far only 558 people have left the Earth and travelled beyond its orbit. Norah Casey goes to infinity and beyond to explore how space tourism will soon be a reality for the rest of the Earth’s inhabitants.

Keywords: Space Travel; Space Tourism; The Moon

Fly me to TRAVEL FEATURE

the moon

So far only 558 people have left the Earth and travelled
beyond its orbit. Norah Casey goes to infinity and
beyond to explore how space tourism will soon be a
reality for the rest of the Earth’s inhabitants.

N ASA estimated that it took While a bunch of passionate and very tourism trip into deep space.
400,000 people and $100 wealthy space junkies have been Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk,
billion to take a man to the proclaiming the advent of moon trips for
moon, which is probably why some time, it looks like the age of space CEO of SpaceX, bagged the two high net
it hasn’t made a return trip. But for the first travel may finally be upon us. Not since the worth passengers. The company is keeping
Apollo 17 mission in 1972 has any other the identity of the two private citizens a
time in 45 years, human ventured to the moon. So imagine closely guarded secret but revealed they had
human beings will be the excitement in the space world when one both paid a considerable and undisclosed
travelling once again company announced in February of this sum to fly to the moon and beyond before
to the moon (well, year that it was heading back to the moon looping back to Earth. They won’t actually
close to its surface at as early as 2018. Instead of astronauts on be landing on the moon but they will give it
any rate) and travelling board, this spacecraft is taking two super- a close brush as they rocket past. The price
further than any other wealthy individuals on the first space tag is believed to be in the region of $150
mission before them. million each. For that price they join just 18

The Moon Vs Mars

According to NASA the moon is pretty inhospitable, with
only a sixth of Earth’s gravity. It might be kinder on our

hearts but would have a detrimental effect on muscles and
bones. It also lacks elements essential for human life

including hydrogen and oxygen. The nights are long and there
is no atmosphere, which leads to temperature extremes and
radiation, while Mars has twice as much gravity as the moon
so has some atmosphere and
liquid water.

other people who have seen the Who owns magnitude is always SpaceX a significant turbo boost in the
moon up close. Musk has no the Moon? going to have a space tourism race.
intention of stopping there sky-high price
Virgin’s Richard
and describes this trip as a The 1967, the UN Outer Space Treaty tag and that Branson

milestone on the bigger declared that no country could own the moon. costs will VIRGIN GALACTIC
Richard Branson is the high profile figure
destination point: a trip of However, in the 1980s, unemployed Dennis Hope inevitably behind Virgin Galactic and for $250,000
a lifetime to Mars. There’s spotted a loophole: the treaty didn’t specify that drop as more you can join a long waiting list of Future
individuals couldn’t own it. He wrote to the UN and more Astronauts, who have been tempted by his
declaring ownership, got no response and since companies vision of personal space flight aboard
then has sold more that 611 million acres of land SpaceShipTwo. Money alone won’t get you

on the moon for $36 an acre., including enter the race.

plots to three former US Presidents, Still, if you’re

George W. Bush, Jimmy Carter looking for
and Ronald Reagan. something completely

free of charge, one

company is offering a one way trip to

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk Mars, linked to the ultimate reality show as

competitors go through a series of hurdles

to win their place to colonise the planet.

more than him, however, in the race to

reach infinity and beyond. WHO’S WHO IN SPACE
The world’s richest men are engaged in a
EXPLORATION?
space race, mostly to tempt fellow

billionaires to part with their wealth, to

achieve that which mere mortals can only S PAC E X

dream of. When you already own islands, Tech entrepreneur Elon Musk is the CEO

yachts, supercars, planes and every material of SpaceX which started in 2001 and five

possession here on planet Earth, what’s years later got its first contract with NASA.

next? A rocket trip into space of course. Valued at $12 billion, SpaceX has

The fantasy that spawned hundreds of sci-fi ambitious plans for commercial and

movies may well be within our grasp but consumer endeavours in space. Two

the trailblazers are part of a very exclusive separate incidents in 2016 have hindered

club. Musk’s space missions – the crash landing

And for the more ordinary-wealthy, a of the reusable Falcon 9 Rocket and a

handful of companies are already taking launchpad explosion, which destroyed a

bookings for sub-orbital expeditions with a $200 million communication satellite

promised bird’s-eye view of planet Earth in intended for Facebook’s African expansion

her all her celestial beauty. However, there plans. Nonetheless, the news that two

are developments a bit lower down the secret fellow millionaires have put a

price range and futurists point to the fact sizeable down payment on a loop around

that the early genesis of something of this the moon on board its Dragon V2 has given

TRAVEL FEATURE

on the list. Fill out the application form BLUE ORIGIN visit for up to 60 days to the company’s
own private space station.
online and if approved you must pay the Blue Origin is headed up by Amazon
STRATOLAUNCH
full price up front. The company said it founder Jeff Bezos who has been quietly Paul Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft, is
the sole investor in StratoLaunch which is
could be operational in the next couple of stealing a march on his competitors with building the widest plane ever built. The
huge 238-foot jet aircraft with a wingspan
years. This two-hour trip into space will planned mini suborbital of 385 feet (116 metres) is being designed to
open up space travel to the masses,
take off from Galactic’s Spaceport in New What’s flights that are likely dispensing with the rocket blast-off
Mexico, catapulting its six passengers Warp Drive? to be quicker to traditional launchpad. If this succeeds it
into outer space at three times the the market than could well offer affordable space tourism in
the future.
speed of sound. Once the engines Fans of Star Trek may well be expecting the others. The

are cut, SpaceShipTwo will hang a warp speed booster on board these price has yet

suspended in the eerie, silent new commercial space vehicles, but sadly to be
blackness of outer space as the traveling faster than the speed of light only announced
space tourists get to experience a exists in the realm of sci-fi. Most scientists but a trip on-
promised five minutes of board the
believe that it’s impossible to achieve.
Interstellar travel will remain elusive until

weightlessness. After much hype, the science advances new methods New Shepard

planned launch has suffered delays of propulsion perhaps using will take you to
and setbacks since Galactic’s solar energy. the limits of the

Earth’s orbit for a bird’s-

eye view of it, experiencing one minute of

weightlessness during the 11-minute flight.

Blue Origin warns there are no toilets on

board so go before you fly. I suspect there

won’t be any snacks or drinks service either.

The company has conducted various safety

flights and says it will be ready as soon as

next year. blueorigin.com

Amazon CEO and BIGELOW AEROSPACE XCOR SPACE EXPEDITIONS
Blue Origin founder, Based in Las Vegas, Bigelow Aerospace was Another option for a short suborbital flight
Jeff Bezos founded by Robert Bigelow who made his is offered by XCOR on board space planes,
fortune on the Budget Suites of America XCOR Lynx Mark I and Lynx Mark II.
SpaceShipTwo came apart during a test hotel chain. His dream is to create habitats Take off is from Mojave, California, and
flight over the Mojave Desert in 2014 in space using inflatable modules, offer Curaçao. The company says: “We are
resulting in the death of the pilot. And private clients trips to the Bigelow Alpha dedicated to making the dream of
perhaps in an effort to show just how safe Station and he even plans to put houses on spaceflight a reality for our customers,
he intends the first expedition to be, the moon. In 2013 NASA signed a $17.8 investors and employees”. A cheaper option
Richard Branson announced that he and million deal to evaluate the company’s than Virgin Galactic, at $95,000, the trip
his children will be on board. technology and regularly uses Bigelow’s will also involve minutes of weightlessness
virgingalactic.com expandable habitats. The cost for joining but the company hasn’t yet specified the
the adventure is pretty steep at $35 million details or when the planes will be
but for that you get to experience what it is operational for the public. xcor.com
really like to be astronaut with a long-term

Why colonise the Moon or Mars?

Apart from the bragging rights of getting to outer space, there
is the more sobering reason in that more than 99 per cent of
the Earth’s species (over five billion) are now extinct following
five massive extinctions in the planet’s history. Many scientists
believe we are now in the middle of the sixth mass extinction,
with a rate of loss greater than at any other time in the history
of the planet. Over-population due to longer life expectancy,
climate change and the rise in consumption of finite resources
mean that Earth may well need to look to its nearest natural
satellite for help. The National Wildlife Federation estimates
that “Every day, an estimated 100 plant and animal species are
lost to deforestation”.

WORLD VIEW ENTERPRISES
A team of retired NASA astronauts
and space scientists partnered with
high altitude balloon experts to work
on nearspace exploration on board
Stratollites. The advantage of this
flight is the price ($75,000) and the
lack of rocket G forces as they glide up
to 30km above Earth for the two-hour
trip. While this is way short of the
official 100km outer space starting
point, it promises passengers in the
suspended capsule (see inset picture)
will experience ‘spectacular views of
the blackness of space and the
curvature of our planet’.
worldview.space

MARS ONE A seat with a view onboard
A Dutch company, Mars One, has launched a dual SpaceX’s Dragon V2
mission – to be the first to colonise Mars (as soon as
2026), and to produce the ultimate reality show THE FASTEST WAY TO YOUR ASTRONAUT WINGS
featuring the contestants. Mars One was founded by
Dutch energy entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp and You arrive in the remote desert plains of West Texas two days before the
European Space Agency scientist Arno Wielders. flight for a spaceflight orientation that includes experience of a weightless
environment. At sunrise you climb the launch tower and enter the rocket
At the start of the project some 200,000 hatch for the final countdown before lift off. The New Shepard six-person
capsule is catapulted at more than 3 Gs through the atmosphere on a 60-
applicants from 140 countries signed up for the one- foot rocket. The views are unparalleled, according to Blue Origin, with the
way ticket and they have now been shortlisted to largest windows in spaceflight history and the trip to 100 km above Earth
100, with a five-day series of tests planned to whittle and officially past the Kármán Line into space. Once there, you get to
them down to 40. Only 24 making the final cut. release your harness and float freely in the perfect stillness. After a minute
This was to be part funded by the ambitious reality you strap back in, experiencing peak 5 Gs before the thrusters slow the
show which follows the contestants but the TV speed of re-entry for a soft landing back on planet Earth. Blue Origin
partner, the maker of Big Brother, pulled out and promise lots of video, pictures and mementos of the flight. For news of
Mars One is in currently talks with alternatives. orbital missions log on to Blueorigin.com.
Contestants were recently taped being asked whether
they would be prepared to eat another human if
necessary to survive, so it’s potentially compelling
viewing even if they never make the trip. Mars One
has yet to build the spaceship or commission the
habitats for Mars and has a long way to go to
generate the billions needed to launch this audacious
plan. Watch this space, as they say. marsone.com

TRAVEL FEATURE

We choose to go to the moon in this decade and
do the other things, not because they are easy,
but because they are hard. JOHN F KENNEDY 1962

Moon Travel: Mining WHO WERE THE FIRST SPACE TOURISTS?
The Essentials on the Moon
Forty years after Yuri Gagarin became the first person in space, USA
Departure will be from the An early stage start-up of space businessman Dennis Tito made history when he became the first space
Kennedy Space Centre Pad entrepreneurs, Moon Express, was tourist. He paid $20 million to fly to the International Space Station (ISS)
39a, the very same one given permission to carry out the first on board the Russian Soyuz spacecraft, one of only two spacecraft that
used for the Apollo private mission to mine for resources have been taking humans into space for the past 40 years. The eight-day
missions. Plan on being away on the moon last year. They plan to trip was organised by Space Adventures (Spaceadventures.com) a
for a week or so to send the MX-1 to the moon in the commercial space travel company, which has organised seven people on
circumnavigate the moon and orbital flights since then. All space tourism trips to the ISS were
next year or so for suspended in 2010 as the crew size on the Space Station increased. Space
exploration. Adventures also negotiated the upcoming 2018 circumnavigation of the
moon for a rumoured $150 million by two private individuals.
loop back to Earth. Conditions are Millionaire Tito had worked as an engineer at NASA earlier in his career
and always dreamed of visiting space before he died.
likely to be cramped, as the capsule,
If you want to book a future trip to the moon with Space Adventure
called Dragon V2, is small (about 3.4 metres wide). Space then they are offering an alternative 17-day vacation in a Soyuz Rocket.
This trip will feature a ‘pit stop’ at the International Space Station (ISS)
tourists aren’t allowed luggage, attire is space suits for and will go as close as 100 km to the moon surface according to its CEO
Eric Anderson.
take-off and re-entry and casual t-shirt and cotton

trousers in between. Flying a commercial airplane, you’re

not expected to take over the reins from the pilot if

something goes wrong, but on a spacecraft you need to

undergo intensive training just like an astronaut. This could

take up to two years. You may not have a qualified pilot on

board if the spacecraft is on autopilot but you will still need

to know what to do in the event of an emergency when

there is just you, a lot of black space and mission control at

the other end of the link. spacex.com

What is Space? Dennis Tito, the first
space tourist
★ Officially it is 100 kilometres above the Earth known
as the Kármán line.

★ The International Space Station is around 220 miles
from Earth.

★ The Moon at its closest is 225,623 miles away
(according to NASA).

★ The lunar loop trip is venturing deeper, circa
300,000 to 400,000 miles (SpaceX).


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